Monthly Archives: February 2016

Spreading the Gospel: Ship Modeling Talk at Diablo Woodworkers Group

Giving presentations is not one of my strong skills, but it’s something I’d certainly like to be better at. This week is my chance to develop that skill a little, as I’ve agreed to do a ship modeling talk at the monthly meeting of the Diablo Woodworkers Club, just a few days from now.

One of my fellow members of the Hyde Street Pier Model Shipwrights group is a member of the woodworkers club and recommended me as a guest speaker, and they contacted me many months ago. They meet in Pleasant Hill, CA, just a few miles from where I live, so it should be logistically very easy. Now, I just have to finish organizing my slides.

To make things easy on myself, I’m mostly going to talk about my models and my experiences as a ship modeler, and use my projects to illustrated some of the aspects of wooden ship model building.

I’m also going to try to set aside the last portion of the talk to focus on my most recent area of interest, Japanese traditional boats. I think these folks will appreciate the full-sized art of Japanese boatbuilding, so I’ll introduce the work of Douglas Brooks and give a plug for his book. And, of course, for those who just want to try ship modeling, I will plug Ages of Sail, which is only about a 40-minutes away.

This isn’t my first ship modeling talk and, hopefully, it won’t be my last. I really wish I were more comfortable with this sort of thing. Perhaps I’m just in denial right now, but I don’t feel nervous about it at all… YET. The meeting is this Wednesday, February 10th, so I still have lots of time for panic to set it.

But, talking about a passion is a lot easier than trying to simply pass myself off as an expert on a subject. And, I am certainly passionate about ship modeling. In any case, I’ll be focussing on recruiting a ship modeler or two from the group, so I’ll be a man on a mission.

Wish me luck!


Swiss Pear Blocks from Syren Ship Model Company are Gone!

Those of us who appreciated the beautiful color and quality of the Swiss Pear blocks that were produced by Syren Ship Model Company will be saddened to learn that the company has decided to discontinue the blocks.


An announcement was made on Model Ship World along with clearance sale pricing on January 30 of this year and as of February 4th, they’ve been removed from the site. That wasn’t much of a heads up for those few of us who liked using the pear wood blocks, but the boxwood blocks are still in production.

I never saw the announcement and, In my case, I have enough pearwood blocks to finish a project that uses them, but I’m going to have to change my plans for a couple other projects. Maybe it’s time to reconsider going back and improve my own block making techniques and forget the reliance on vendor made blocks?

I made my own for both my Mary Taylor and Lively models, so we’ll see. For my paper model of HMS Alert, I had some of Syren’s Swiss Pear blocks mounted, but I was thinking of going back to paper blocks in keeping with the paper model theme anyway. That just simplifies the decision.

For those who don’t want to make their own blocks but prefer darker wood blocks, Syren’s boxwood blocks will work just fine when stained. Ω

Presentation on the C.A. Thayer in San Francisco, February 25

Those of you who have been following the news on the last West Coast lumber schooner C.A. Thayer are probably aware that it is currently in Alameda at Bay Ship & Yacht Company, currently receiving her masts and standing rigging. This is exciting news as she’s been sitting for years at Hyde Street Pier, unrigged. While she went through a major restoration of her hull many years ago, what’s a sailing ship without masts? She’ll be home soon and ready for the remaining rigging and deckhouse work soon.

Coming up on Thursday, February 25, there will be a presentation the Thayer by three members of the National Park’s preservation team at the Maritime Library in Lower Fort Mason at 6:00 PM. This event is FREE TO THE PUBLIC.

Below is the flier for the event. Don’t miss it!

THAYER Lecture